Fine full color example of Thomas Jefferys' highly sought after map of the Virgin Islands, from The West-India Atlas.
Jefferys map is one of the earliest separately issued maps of the Virgin Islands and the earliest obtainable large format map to focus on the region.
In addition to the Virgin Islands, the map covers the eastern part of Puerto Rico, Anguilla, Saint Christopher, Saint Martin, Saba and St. Eustatius. The map shows anchorages, soundings, shoals, channels through the islands, and the administrative divisions of St. Croix, etc. Relief shown pictorially; depths by soundings. Includes 12 island profiles and a historical and geographical note entitled "Observations."
Jefferys' map includes 12 profile views of the islands, showing recognition approaches to key harbors, etc. The map was significantly revised in later editions. In describing the West India Atlas, Rumsey notes:
This is a superb atlas of the West Indies and a companion atlas to Jeffery's American Atlas also first issued in 1775. The latest date on the charts in this copy is 1788 (The Cape Verd Islands). . . . Jefferys died in 1771; Sayer and Bennet acquired his materials in preparation for this atlas, and published the atlas posthumously under his name (as they did with the American Atlas) in 1775. The heart of this atlas and the most detailed part is the sixteen sheet large chart and index sheet of the whole of the West Indies. The rest of the atlas consists of charts of the Atlantic Islands and the British Channel, as well as individual maps and charts of seventeen islands in the West Indies. . . . Phillips shows issues of 1775, 1781, 1787, 1794, 1796, 1807, and 1818. With the 1794 and later editions, 20 maps are added of various additional islands. Sayer and Bennet also published in 1775 a smaller version of this atlas called "The West India Islands: From Actual Survey and Observations..." that consisted of the same text, a general chart of the Islands, and the same sixteen or seventeen (depending on the edition) charts of the islands that appear in the larger version (P3942). Finally, Jefferys himself published in 1762 "A Description of the Spanish Islands and Settlements on the Coast of the West Indies" which was issued in quarto, with a general chart and 32 maps and plans of harbors and towns . . .
Thomas Jefferys (ca. 1719-1771) was a prolific map publisher, engraver, and cartographer based in London. His father was a cutler, but Jefferys was apprenticed to Emanuel Bowen, a prominent mapmaker and engraver. He was made free of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in 1744, although two earlier maps bearing his name have been identified.
Jefferys had several collaborators and partners throughout his career. His first atlas, The Small English Atlas, was published with Thomas Kitchin in 1748-9. Later, he worked with Robert Sayer on A General Topography of North America (1768); Sayer also published posthumous collections with Jefferys' contributions including The American Atlas, The North-American Pilot, and The West-India Atlas.
Jefferys was the Geographer to Frederick Prince of Wales and, from 1760, to King George III. Thanks especially to opportunities offered by the Seven Years' War, he is best known today for his maps of North America, and for his central place in the map trade—he not only sold maps commercially, but also imported the latest materials and had ties to several government bodies for whom he produced materials.
Upon his death in 1771, his workshop passed to his partner, William Faden, and his son, Thomas Jr. However, Jefferys had gone bankrupt in 1766 and some of his plates were bought by Robert Sayer (see above). Sayer, who had partnered in the past with Philip Overton (d. 1751), specialized in (re)publishing maps. In 1770, he partnered with John Bennett and many Jefferys maps were republished by the duo.